Over the last weekend, I revisited two legacy restaurants to satiate my dosa cravings. Both the restaurants I’m going to talk about today are places I hadn’t been to in quite some time, partly due to circumstances and partly personal choice.
The first stop was Ratna Cafe, for an evening snack. I was in Triplicane for some work, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to walk into the place famous for serving Chennai’s best sambar. It is widely known that the best way to do justice to what Ratna Cafe offers would be to order two pieces of regular idly in a bowl, which would be followed by a server carrying a jug of that piping hot liquid, the protagonist of the show. Copious amounts of it would then be slowly poured as you watch the idly gently submerge like a whale in the deep blue sea.
While that, plus some items on the evening snack menu seemed enticing, I wanted to have my favourite dish. So I ordered the regular masala dosa, which is ideal for a 6pm snack. Not too small, yet leaving enough room for a proper dinner later, the masala dosa is food for all occasions. The dosa was neither too crisp, nor too soft; it was what my dad would call padham. The potato masala stuffing was standard. What impressed me about the sambar immediately was how different it was from every other sambar I had had. It was an arachu vitta sambar, something only grandmas make at home. I immediately saw why the ingredients and preparation method are a secret. The most impressive part of the plate though, was the unassuming coconut chutney. It was so fresh, and made me ask for multiple servings in a place where only sambar could command that right.
While the meal was quite satisfactory, something in the dosa made me want more out of the dish. But priced at roughly Rs. 60, it was good value for money.
Next up was Saravana Bhavan. I had resisted going to this place after multiple instances of bad service and/or food for a long time. But a Sunday morning situation took me here for breakfast. I ordered a ghee roast masala. The dosa was humongous, and the first bite instantly touched the right pleasure points. Very rarely do you find Instagram worthy food, tasting the way it looks. The combination of masala, ghee, absolute crispiness of the dosa, rich sambar (cashew nuts is rich, okay) and the coconut and red kaara chutneys made for a delectable meal. I was so bowled over that I resisted taking pictures and enjoyed the meal wholeheartedly.
The meal set me back by Rs. 155, but at that point I couldn’t care less. Only Mesut Ozil scoring a hat-trick against Spurs would give me more euphoria.
To conclude, two good dosa days made for a good weekend in Chennai, and I have to up my game and expectations to find something better than what I had on that very enjoyable Sunday morning.